Skip to content

Tips on how to find cheaper tickets

How confident are you about getting the best deal on train tickets?

Not too sure? Well, our surveys tell us that more than half of passengers feel they are not getting value for money. The annual fare rises are not helping either. Here are some tips to make sure you get your tickets at the best price.

Buy directly from the operator’s website

  • Most operators’ websites do not charge booking fees. Sometimes they will offer discounts on their routes, so it might be worth checking with them before you buy.
  • Sign up to email alerts – from time to time, they might send you offers.

Book in advance

  • Booking an Advance ticket will usually save you money. Companies start selling tickets up to 12 weeks before the journey.
  • If you miss the first batch of cheap tickets on the travel date you want, don’t give up and keep looking. They sometimes release more later on.

Demand cheaper tickets

  • Tick the ‘I’m flexible’ box (usually located on the left-hand side) if you are flexible about the time of travel. An alternative journey, where you travel earlier or later, might be cheaper.

Railcards

16-25 Railcard Family & Friends Railcard Senior Railcard
Network Railcard Disabled Persons Railcard HM Forces Railcard
Two Together Railcard
  • You can make big savings if you use a Railcard when buying tickets. There are different ones to choose from. For example, there are national and regional railcards. National Railcards include:
  • Ensure that the railcard you buy is valid for the journey you want to make.

 Three may be a group

  • Three or more travellers may be classed as a group. Remember to check for a group option as you could save up to a third. Ten or more is always a group.

“Split” your journey

  • If you are travelling long distance, it might be cheaper to buy two separate tickets to your destination. For example, if you wanted to travel from A to C, you could see if buying tickets from A to B and B to C was cheaper than one ticket from A to C. (Note: If you want to do this, you’ll need to do this yourself as staff at ticket offices are not required to search for the cheapest ticket)
  • If you do this, remember to check what restrictions apply. For example, if your service is delayed and your connection is time-specific then you may have to pay extra. The train you are travelling on must stop at station B when you change between tickets or they are not valid.

Other routes/operators

  • See if other operators or routes are available. They may be cheaper than the ‘main’ obvious operators.

Upgrade on the train

  • At weekends and bank holidays, you can sometimes get a First Class upgrade for as little as £5 (on some longer-distance journeys) – that might include drinks and snacks too.

Go single

When booking a return journey, check whether it’s cheaper to buy two Singles or a Return.

 Fare rise

  • Most fares increase in January, although revisions can take place in May and September. It is wise to book your tickets before the new fares come into effect. If you already have a ticket, it will be valid even if the fare or validity have changed.
  • Similarly, if you buy a season ticket, especially an annual, get it before 2 January to get it at the previous January’s rate.

Related content

Latest news

Top motorway services named

Find out more
Latest publication

Motorway Services User Survey – Spring 2017

Find out more
Latest post

Tiredness kills – take a break: what do drivers think of motorway services?

Find out more